In early spring, perfectly timed with the snow that paralyzed the south of England for a few days, I introduced myself at the music department of the University Southampton – a first move in connection with my post-doc research project which is up and running as of 15 March (see a short abstract under the “research” tab). One of the questions I heard was how I combine playing and research. One could add, “how do I manage to write blog posts about either activity?” A look at the frequency of my postings during the last half year provides the answer, “hardly at all.” The rest is time management, to be attempted again every new day. The following posts are about this topic.
One of the reasons why I’m not drinking ale with my colleagues in Southampton at the moment is that the new project requires an awful lot of reading – and I’ve got more relevant books than I can handle right here at home. I used to be a performance practice person with a bit of knowledge about instrument building; now I am confronted with art worlds, how users matter, the history of technology and Viennese concert life, to name but a few of the things I have to know about before I can even begin worrying about the thickness of strings and hammer heads and the correspondence of various Viennese piano firms. All this material is spread out over several horizontal surfaces all over the house, and whether it is read or not depends solely on my discipline. I need discipline to refrain from cutting the firewood in the garden first, from making another cup of coffee, from thinking that I first need to practice for one of the upcoming concerts, from sliding off into the depths and widths of the world wide web and even from doing the dishes. The problem is not so much that reading books about theory isn’t fun (I will not put a parenthesis after this statement). It is that one needs to create space for truly absorbing what one reads. In the absence of a real plot in most of these books, “stuff” tries to invade one’s brain all the time, and one’s thoughts want to wander. But the paragraph that floats past un-understood is in effect an unread one. There are hundreds of candidates for such paragraphs in scholarly books. One must resort to foolproof and simplistic methods for getting the reading done. Half-engaged scholarly reading is a gigantic waste of time. (more…)